MANILA – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to improve the data collection on onions first before importing 22,000 metric tons (MT) of the commodity, adding it is also best for authorities to observe the onion harvest next week.
Hontiveros also cautioned the DA and BPI about the amount of onions that we intend to import as she recommends a two step process — import some then wait and see.
“It’s best to wait and see. Malapit na ang anihan ng ating mga magsasaka at magpapatuloy ito hanggang Abril. Kung maganda ang ani tulad noong nakaraang taon, baka hindi naman kailangan na 22,000 metric tons ang sibuyas na aangkatin (Our farmers’ harvest is almost here and it will continue until April. If the harvest is as good as last year, it may not be necessary to import 22,000 metric tons of onions),” she said.
“Baka naman pwedeng kalahati lamang ng authorized amount ni Presidente ang dapat ma-import, lalo na kung maging masagana ang makukuha natin sa Nueva Ecija at Mindoro. Pwede namang hindi itodo (Maybe only half of the President’s authorized amount should be imported, especially if we get good harvest from Nueva Ecija and Mindoro),” she added.
The senator noted the need for the DA and BPI to improve their data collection on onions so that officials do not make rash decisions.
”Limitado ang datos ng DA ukol sa lawak at laki ng ani mula sa mga taniman ng sibuyas kaya hindi malayong mabago pa ang 22,000 metric tons na iniutos ni Presidente. Huwag muna tayong magpadala sa ‘random sampling.’ Maghunos dili muna (DA has limited data with regards to the scope of harvested onions. So it is possible that the 22,000 metric tons ordered by the President for import might change. We must not be tempted with ‘random sampling’),” Hontiveros said in her statement.
She explained that it is better to wait and see, since harvest time is just around the corner and will last until April, saying if there is an abundance of harvest in Nueva Ecija and Mindoro “we might not need to import 22,000 metric tons”.
Hontiveros said that concerned government agencies should also help Filipino farmers recover from the bad weather that repeatedly decimated their crops last year as she suggested that the onion farmers must apply to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation of the DA. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)